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What started out as just Shaun Gilchrist’s hobby is developing to become the world’s first and premier price index for Bitcoin, BitcoinAverage.
Basic physics describes how a simple innocent bathtub immersion inspired an innovation that has affected mankind. Archimedes did not set out to discover the principle of floatation, but ships are built today based on the principles he discovered.
“There was no funding involved, it was created initially as a hobby. I wanted to provide it to the community to do my part for bitcoin,” said Shaun Gilchrist, founder and CEO of BitcoinAverage, whose Global Bitcoin Price Index (GBX) was the first of its kind in the industry and is still the most widely used price source for the cryptocurrency.
“There was truly no goal to monetise the project, it was open source and even access to the application program interface (API) was completely free, three years later, it still is.”
According to expert, Brandon Kostinuk, of Vanbex, under expressed demand, the industry-leading system is set to kick off with pioneering changes including major upgrades to its system, soon.
Hardened investors to hobbyist users of Bitcoin will find these newest developments exciting prospects for the data-driven side of the ecosystem.
Kostinuk continues by identifying that they may also seem like predictable innovations for the world’s most valuable, yet volatile, cryptocurrency. Yet, as simple as that goal may appear, creating an index for a decentralized, globally used and traded cryptocurrency, involves substantial forethought and ingenuity, especially to travel from selfless dedication to an unparalleled index architecture.
It also looks as if BitcoinAverage is poised to sustain itself as the industry frontrunner and secure the status as the de facto index choice for Bitcoin users, traders, investors and more.
BitcoinAverage as an aggregated Bitcoin price index was launched in August 2013.
Gilchrist explained that he initially wanted to know the difference in markets to better gauge potential profits for off-exchange trading and the brokering of trades, which was taking off in the U.K. around that time.
After successfully creating a simple script in 2012 to compare the premium of the British Pound market to the US dollar, Gilchrist recognized the data may be well received by others.
The price index was soon released as an open source and the journey of BitcoinAverage began, with thousands of monthly users soon taking to the earliest iteration of the system.
In his claims, Gilchrist says that the company’s data extends as far back as 2010, encompassing a volume that surpasses key competitors.
But it’s not just breadth and back-end programming. The index is also highly approachable, as it is comprehensive, from a front-end user perspective.
“The layout has grown into a less clunky interface than other indices. The display contains legible data with an adequate colour contrast important for those that spend hours researching and analyzing data in single sittings.”
Furthermore, the currency and commodity options abound. Including USD, EUR, CNY, GBP and CAD options, the global index consists of over 165 currencies to Gilchrist’s estimation.
The wide accessibility to fiat currencies and commodities provides an additional layer of relevance on a global scale, especially important for a cryptocurrency that extends beyond any one set of borders.
There were some initial pains, however, and to some extent those same inflictions remain today.
“In the early days [we] were coping with the frequent issues with exchanges, their API’s uptimes, and the fact that one could just disappear overnight.”
Though his experience of the volatile nature of the industry, Gilchrist labelled as necessary learning curves and asserts adaptation to market conditions as continuous endeavours for the London-based index.
The current BitcoinAverage system does not address 0% fee exchanges. Gilchrist claims that the company is working on it.
He attaches the reason for the current situation to the fact that users can trade on the exchange for free with an unlimited base on a very tiny spread.
The increased volume, sometimes exponentially, can skew the average on a weighted average price which is what BitcoinAverage currently supplies.
“We have rewritten our whole backend from scratch,” said Gilchrist. “A major decision for any software provider.”
Kostinuk observes that the upcoming launch of the BitcoinAverage latest API, which has recently been released in a closed beta to allow testing and feedback before product finalization, means BitcoinAverage is closing in on its next evolutionary step: Scalability for the needs of enterprise.
The claim is that the new interface will be bundled with an updated front-end, offering customization and tailored programming to provide real-time, by-the-second updates, data points from exchanges all over the world, and the capability to adapt and adjust those indices to even the most idiosyncratic needs.
The changes underway are expected to usher in the most advanced, comprehensive Bitcoin price index to date with pioneering features that push the system well beyond capabilities of competitor indices.
Potential is the key word. It speaks to the core necessity of a pricing index, for Bitcoin or any other commodity.
“I have been a ‘bitcoiner’ myself since 2010. It was mentioned to me by a developer, and from the first few weeks of research, toying with mining, et cetera, I was hooked on its potential.”
The cryptocurrency, while commanding over USD $6 billion in market capitalization today, is a young asset class.
And granted stability in price has existed in recent months, since January, the cryptocurrency remains subject to volatility for a myriad of factors, in particular, the gradual rate of adoption and its perceived store of value, which is tantamount to its consideration over gold-backed fiat currencies.
Further complicating the asset class is the range of exchanges worldwide, which involves a unique array of fees, rates and policies — perhaps shaped by the country the exchange is based in — that, in the end, can affect the bottom-line for users, traders or investors.
This is where the core value of a system like BitcoinAverage’s shines through.
Supplying a weighted average that incorporates over four dozen of the world’s exchanges, with 0% fee exchanges soon to be included, access to the widest variety of currency markets available among indices, there’s no better method of gauging the potential swings of the prone-to-volatility cryptocurrency.
And with billions of dollars at stake, such a system is invaluable.
In relation to Bitcoin’s ability to subsist, Gilchrist says:
“I believe being the first to produce something is a great advantage in many areas. Will that be enough on its own? I’m not sure. I put my faith in the developers. I think at this stage, regardless of things like regulations, it's in their hands.”
Gilchrist’s company is inching closer to morphing the basement-based hobby turned three-year open source project into a viable business.
With that, the three-year-old system steps closer to becoming the generally accepted, go-to price index for Bitcoin.
Such triumph, however, rests on BitcoinAverage’s development team. Gilchrist assures there will be more on that front, along with progress already made, in the weeks to come.
Let’s just hope the cryptocurrency itself can too push onward in positive fashion and reach the heights it once grasped in 2013, back when BitcoinAverage was just a nascent endeavour.
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